SONOMA, Calif. — A.J. Allmendinger was expecting the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday to produce his second-career win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, along with his maiden berth on the Chase Grid.
Instead, the afternoon proved to be a miserable one for the road course specialist.
After starting the event from the second position, Allmendinger controlled the race in his No. 47 Ralph’s/Kingsford Chevrolet, leading 20 laps and appeared to be en route to his first win in the Golden State.
One mishap would change those hopes.
With 20 laps remaining and during a caution while he was leading, Allmendinger was handed a violation for an uncontrolled tire — forcing him to the end of the lead lap competitors, and setting him up 33rd in the running order for the restart.
From that point, salvaging was at the forefront of Allmendinger’s mind. During that stretch, which was a caution-free run to the end, the veteran rebounded to finish in the 14th position, marking his sixth top-15 result this season.
“It’s racing,” Allmendinger expressed. “You know you are not guaranteed anything until the checkered flag. It’s part of life — we win and lose as a team. We have to get our stuff straight if we actually want to be a Chase team and consider ourselves a Chase team.”
Despite the pit road issue, Allmendinger was not too upset. He was, however, impressed with the team’s improvement over the weekend.
“Randall Burnett (crew chief) and all the guys Brian Burns, Tony Palmer, did a great job this afternoon,” Allmendinger expressed. “We were not very good. We were pretty junky on Friday. They worked hard to get this thing as good as it could be. Such a strange race.”
“At one point you think the tires go off and then you find something and manage them again. I thought whatever it was, 25 to go, we were coming. So in the end just a bad pit stop and let the tire get away and penalty. That took away our chance to win the race.”
Although it was not the ultimate result, dwelling is not on the former Verizon IndyCar Series competitors mind.
Allmendinger enters the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night even more motivated to score his first win this season and to secure a position on the Chase Grid.
Through 14 starts at ‘The World Center of Racing’, Allmendinger has recorded one top five finish (in 2009).
Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 is scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m. Eastern with coverage on NBC Sports, the Motor Racing Network and NASCAR SiriuxXM Radio (channel 90).
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and was also formerly the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, entering his junior semesters. He is just 15 years old.
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